In today’s ever-evolving business landscape, experiential events have become a key strategy for organizations to engage their audience and achieve their marketing goals. Creating an immersive and interactive event that resonates with your target audience is vital to your event’s success.
To gain insight into the key elements that event planners should consider when creating an experiential event marketing strategy, 10times Eva Talk featured Nausheen Ahmad, an experienced Events and Experiential Marketing Manager at Loopio.
Nausheen shared some tips on using technology to create immersive and interactive experiences for event attendees and how to personalize and customize experiential events for different audience segments.
Nausheen has a successful portfolio of over 400 in-person and virtual events planned across various formats, sizes, and budgets. She has a strong background in developing and executing experiential marketing campaigns and events for various clients across different industries.
She has a proven track record of delivering successful events that effectively reach and engage target audiences.
– What elements should event planners consider while creating an experiential event marketing strategy to create immersive and interactive experiences?
I know different event planners would go around it differently because each of us has a different way of planning events and coming to the experience. But for me, I think what is most important is defining the goal or the objective of the event.
Why are we doing that event? Is it for brand awareness? Is it to get new leads? Is it launching a new product? Is it for creating a VIP experience for selected customers or prospects?
So defining that is primarily the most important because once you have that goal or objective defined, you can start looking at other pieces of what you can do tactically to reach that goal or objective.
The next thing, then, would be to understand the audience. So once I have my goal, the second thing would be to define my audience. What is the demographic they are from? What is their key area of interest? Is there any specific target audience behavior I need to remember, or the locality or geography we are in?
I have come to understand that different places, different countries, or regions have different traditions or cultures that it is so important to be aware of while planning an event because something that could work well for a North American audience, let’s say, for example, might not work very well for a Middle Eastern audience.
So understanding the demographics of the audience coming to your event is extremely important before you start planning your event marketing strategy. And I think the third thing that I would look at is technology.
What are the different technologies that we can use to enhance my event experience? If we can use some interactive tools, is there a virtual reality technology that can be brought into the event to make it fun and engaging? I would look at these three things before creating my marketing strategy and building on the experiences.
– Could you share some tips with event organizers on using technology to create immersive and interactive experiences for event attendees?
I think every event is different, and the technology we use for each of these events should be tailored to the specific needs and goals of the event, as I previously outlined. Especially with covid and everything that happened, event technology has seen a sharp rise or a sharp curve, and more and more new technologies are coming.
Even before the pandemic hit, two technologies were very widely used in events. One of them is virtual reality, and the second is augmented reality. Those two technologies can create an immersive experience and transport attendees to a different location or time if that is part of your building experience.
Even with augmented reality, I have, in the past, used augmented reality for sending out event invitations because just scanning that QR code and getting the invite as a part of augmented reality is amazing.
During presentations on stage and the speaker or the presenter, using augmented reality as a tool just helps elevate that entire presentation experience. Also, social media integration is extremely important. Now in virtual or even in-person events, having a social media live feed on a wall, which people can engage with or interact with, brings many onsite or virtual engagements.
I think the fourth technology I would say is critical is live streaming. Even if you’re doing an in-person event, it’s important to have a live-streaming component to broadcast to your virtual audiences, amplifying your event’s reach.
And I think one more technology I should mention here is the use of RFID or Beacon technology. These can be used to automate event check-ins and even registration processes because that just helps to reduce the queues and the wait times, and people can just ensure that the check-in process is fast; they don’t spend too much time there.
You don’t have people looking for badges or lanyards, and that is a huge chunk of in-person events that these new technologies have optimized and made more efficient.
– How can event planners use personalization and customization to create a tailored experience for different audience segments at experiential events?
When discussing personalization and customization for the audience, I think the most important thing is first to segment the audience. So dividing the audience into segments based on their interest or needs is important even in your pre-event stages.
So what I like to do when planning my events is divide events into the pre-event, actual, and post-event phases. So when doing the pre-event things, segmentation would be important as soon as you divide your audience segments.
Now they could be divided based on demographics. They could be divided based on interest; they could be divided based on where they fit within your marketing funnel, let’s say, are at the top, middle, or bottom of the funnel.
Based on that, you need to start creating personalized communication for each of them, so don’t send out a mass email that goes out to everybody that you are expecting to come to the event or register for the event because everybody might have a different need or a different reason for attending that event.
And sit with your marketing team and identify which of your personas would find what part of your event to be of most value to them and create a personalized communication or marketing tactic for that segment. You will be able to maximize your event registration and event attendance, both.
Second, having tracks, sessions, or components of your event that match these individualized segments allows you to personalize an experience tailored to them.
If you have a tool or software that your customer is using, having workshops where you show them how to use the tool best or what the benefit of using it differently would help the customers.
If it’s for your prospect doing demos and showing them, you know, some testimonials would work if it’s a partner you’re inviting, then what is a different content that you can share with them that will help them become a client of yours? I think it’s important to have sessions that are also personalized in terms of content.
And then understand the duration of those sessions. What is going to work best, what format will work best, is it going to be a workshop or a round table or just a thought leadership session that’s important?
There’s another segmentation here: many people have started talking about keeping virtual and in-person audiences and planning differently for them. So you cannot just have one go-to-market strategy for both audiences because their behavior, consumption, time, and focus devotion to that event will be different. So planning ahead of time to suit the needs of both these types of audiences would also be very important.
– what trends do you anticipate for experiential event marketing in the near future?
I think experiential event marketing will focus heavily on hybrid events, so ensuring that all the events you are planning have an in-person and a virtual component would be important. I don’t think the audience or the people are ready to give up on virtual events just yet.
The other thing that I think will be important for us is the use of technology and how we use it. Especially artificial intelligence, I think event technology still does not use artificial intelligence to its maximum usage. And that is something that I am excited to see how event technology companies will start using artificial intelligence in the future.
I think one of the things I’ve seen is matchmaking for event attendees, whether on the virtual platform or to match them to an in-person attendee or even on an in-person event floor. But I’d love to see what more is coming on regarding artificial intelligence and event tech.
– What advice would you give someone just starting in experiential event marketing?
I would say to be ready to learn and work harder and smarter. I think being in events makes you so much more agile; you are always on your toes, you are constantly innovating, and you’re constantly also firefighting.
I keep telling people that no two events are the same, even if it’s an event-in-the-box strategy. Yet, you will have something that goes wrong in an event as much as you have done all the planning, but you have to be able to, you know, firefight and be nimble to resolve the issue.
Event professionals need to be organized and detailed. Understanding the various logistical components that come while planning an event and knowing how to document different things is important.
Getting yourself on how to use different event platforms and the backend is important. Most of the backend and front ends of almost all the event platforms are very similar. So even if you know how to use one or two event technology platforms, you should be good.
Investing some time and learning a few of those tools is important. Learning never stops, so you just have to constantly stay up to date with the latest trends or technologies, learn from industry professionals, learn from industry newsletters, research some case studies, look at what events are happening worldwide, and pick out some of the best things that you can find in those events and see how you can apply them to your events with the twist or tweak it a bit.
For more in the Events Industry Experts series, check out our interview with Jonathan Pritchard, Shawn Cheng, Olivia Preston-Lee, Patric Weiler, Shameka Jennings, Janice Cardinale, Courtney Stanley, Helen Moon, Danica Tormohlen, Ashley Brown, Jason Allan Scott, Brandt Krueger, Corbin Ball, Will Curran, and Stephan Murtagh today!
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